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On Mother’s Day, this author takes time out to think of and wish her inspiring MIL, a strong woman who has battled enormous adversity and continues to fight.
It is Mother’s Day today and everywhere around me, love is in the air. There is the usual buzz of advertisements focusing on the pure and unconditional love of mothers, web series showing the tender, loving care between mothers and their offspring, retailers offering huge discounts to Moms, spa and brunch places getting ready for the D-Day, husbands and kids planning surprises for M-day and mothers themselves getting harrowed about what’s coming their way on this special day.
I have a mixed bag of emotions this year on Mother’s Day. While I feel blessed to be able to celebrate another fun-filled and memorable M-day with my son and husband, I am sad because another mother, my MIL is struggling to keep her health and spirits intact this M-Day. She is currently hospitalized due to multiple complications caused by a severe bout of brain meningitis that she has been battling with for the last 14 years. And that has been further compounded by her losing her eyesight completely since the last 2 years and being bed-ridden. It is heart wrenching to see someone so closely related go through such immense suffering and scream out in pain and frustration, and one can’t feel more helpless and terrible in that situation.
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My husband and I are childhood sweethearts and when we decided to plunge into marital bliss, my MIL was the first woman to get a whiff of it and she was the happiest to welcome and embrace me into the family. She is a strong-willed, highly opinionated, fiercely independent and extremely courageous woman. While she comes from a conservative and orthodox background she has always been very progressive and has maintained a modern outlook. She is the only sister amongst three brothers and as a result she always craved for a sisterhood circle. She desperately wanted a daughter after her first son was born but was gifted another boy. And so when it was time for her to be a MIL, she was quite happy to be bringing home a daughter and that was the most comforting feeling for me.
We stayed together as part of a joint family for exactly two years, post which my husband and I relocated to another city and since then, for the last 14 years we have lived independently. Initially, my MIL and I had a great time bonding with each other. She was happy to have a working daughter-in-law and supported my dreams and aspirations. At the same time, I was very proud of the fact that she was so different from the rest of the MIL community – she would drive a car, she was a yoga instructor for 15 years, she would love to dress up in some of the most gorgeous sarees I have seen and she was a pro at managing the house and kitchen. In fact, she was the one who taught me to cook and patiently stood by until I mastered the art of making semi-round rotis (that’s the best she could achieve with me).
Over a period of time, we both realized that while we respect each other, we have completely different personalities and ideologies and time and distance did drift us apart. Today, while we are not the best of friends and we don’t sit and chat for hours together every time we meet, yet there is a karmic connection that binds us together – her elder son and my husband. I can’t thank and appreciate my MIL enough for raising such a wonderful man who is also my husband and I am proud to be his wife. She has instilled and cultivated some excellent habits in her son and while I am sure she must have wanted to tear her hair apart while he was growing up, today I can safely claim that she cracked the parenting code when it comes to raising her son.
At the young age of 46, my MIL was diagnosed with severe brain meningitis that took the life and spirits out of her but she bounced back beautifully and came around stronger than ever. She was partially handicapped and had lost her eyesight all these years but that didn’t let her dampen her spirits. She is blessed to have a husband who has the most selfless devotion towards keeping his wife healthy and happy. He has been single-handedly taking care of her every need and he does it with utmost sincerity and a huge level of responsibility. With all his love and affection, she has bounced back from every setback and sprung to life with full vigour and hope.
For the last few years, in spite of her illness and handicap, she continued to pursue her passion for yoga and was conducting classes for women in her home. It is incredible to see the love and the beautiful bond that my in-laws share with each other; I am completely at at a loss of words to describe that feeling. But it has also been a very stressful journey for both of them and the family. My MIL is now a grandmother to three grandsons but it’s very unfortunate that she hasn’t been able to ever see them or be with them the way she would have liked to be. She can only recognize family through their voices but her mind is still razor sharp and she can give any Baniya (the community she hails from) a run for their money!
This year, on Mother’s Day I wish my MIL a very speedy and healthy recovery and may she get to spend the rest of her life devoid of any hardships and pain and continue to inspire women with her never-say-die attitude.
A very Happy Mother’s Day Mummy and thank you for giving me the best gift of my life, your wonderful son and my darling husband.
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I am Rachana Gupta, a happy and highly spirited woman, who loves being the sunshine
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